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Preview: The Secret Sisters 

The Alabama siblings play Gasa Gasa July 9

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If you grow up next to a ballpark, you're bound to play baseball. The Secret Sisters — actual siblings Laura and Lydia Rogers — were reared in Florence, Alabama, a stone's throw across the Tennessee River from Muscle Shoals and all the musical tradition that comes with it. Clearly, there's something in the water. Another river runs through the sisters' sophomore LP, Put Your Needle Down (Republic): "River Jordan," the first song written for the album, closes it out with an up-tempo baptism ballad inspired by a Ralph Stanley bluegrass spiritual. Fewer spirits haunt the sequel to their 2010 eponymous debut, and for good reason; whereas the latter album was a vocal showcase composed largely of traditional country covers, the follow-up is a journey inside the heads behind all that heart. The exception on each are the opening tracks: "Tennessee Me," which introduced the duo's velour harmonies, is one of only two originals on their debut, while "Rattle My Bones," a foot-stomping hoedown that casts them in a whole new light, counts among the three new tracks they didn't pen themselves. The choice of artist says even more — not Hank Williams or Bill Monroe, but Brandi Carlile, the modern musician who straddles the line between classic country and brainy pop/rock better than just about any other. Put Your Needle Down similarly channels Carlile's leap on her 2007 album The Story, both in the choice of producer (T Bone Burnett, whom every budding, big-voiced country singer should have on speed dial) and in the apparent comfort with which it takes chances. Secret Sisters' "Dirty Lie" takes the biggest one of all: attaching the Rogers' name after Bob Dylan's. Salvaged from his Mount Everest demo scrapheap and granted the most sacred of permissions, it springs to life via tiptoeing upright bass, sauntering strings and a saucy lead. Somewhere, under a wide-brimmed Baron hat, Robert Zimmerman is grinning. Craig Paddock opens. Tickets $15.


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